Saturday, February 27, 2010

Snow in Austin

It snowed here in Austin last week!!  This is a rarity, so took lots of pics - here are a few.  :)

Love, Mer

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Restaurant Review - Juan In A Million, Austin, TX

Just got back from eating at Juan In A Million and felt inspired to write a review. We had some friends in town from California and tried to give them a full overview of what life is like in TX - took them to 6th Street, the Capital, The Oasis for sunset, Salt Lick; we even took them to the Alamo. And of course, sadly, they were able to check out the burning Echelon building on Thursday. We had seen the Man vs Food - Austin episode on The Travel Channel, and had always wanted to check out these famous tacos at JIAM, and decided to take our friends on the way to the airport.  This restaurant is on the east side of 35, in the barrio, so we don't exactly spend a lot of time in that part of Austin.  This is definitely a destination place, or a good spot to drop by on the way to the airport.  :)

The reason why this restaurant has become so famous is because they have a contest that if you eat 8 breakfast tacos (which are ENORMOUS), you get your picture on the Juan of Fame.  We stopped by to check it out and it looks like the last winner, who ate 7 of them, was a really tall, skinny Asian kid.  I don't know where he put it all!!  LOL  And Adam Richman, the Man vs Food guy - he was on there as the "celebrity winner", but didn't get anywhere near finishing 8 tacos.  And this dude can EAT.  Anyway...

Where else can one order chili con queso and fire-hot salsa and chips at breakfast? Texas, baby! (swoon) I accidentally ordered the "breakfast special" instead of the breakfast tacos and I really missed out - it was just hash browns, scrambled eggs and refried beans with tortillas.  BORRRRING. Hubby ordered the famous breakfast tacos made with flavorful potatoes, crispy bacon, and scrambled eggs, and topped with salsa and cheese on HOMEMADE tortillas, so I got to try them after all, and actually, the two of us dined on his one taco quite easily - they're huge! And soooo delicious. AND they only cost $3.50!

The only reason I'm not giving Juan In A Million 4 stars is because we ended up sitting near the bathroom and it smelled like a raw sewage plant was close by... I had to stuff my face with the super spicy salsa just to override the smell! It worked, but that is just uncool.

All in all, a super cool experience - great food, good service, and a fun environment. Just be sure to sit on the patio or in the main dining room - not in the alcove by the shitters. PU!
Love, Meredith

Friday, February 19, 2010

Tragedy in Austin

Well, unless you’ve been living under a rock the last few days, I’m sure you’re familiar with the fact that a nutjob flew his plane into an IRS building a few miles away from my house. It’s literally 10 minutes from my home and about 5 minutes from Sheridan’s office. Fortunately, none of us nor our friends, were affected by the tragedy. Sheridan, Troy, and Chastity drove past the madness on their way to Chuy’s (those jerks were drinking margaritas while I was slaving at work), but that’s about it. Thank God for that!
I would imagine that since this guy isn’t Middle Easter, people wouldn’t call him a terrorist, but I hope people realize that he is exactly that – a terrorist. Making his extremist views known by means of extreme violence… that’s terrorism. He was just a suicide bomber with an airplane, not a backpack, and a private plane versus a jumbo jet. What a jerk! Couldn’t he have just shot himself or something? Why did he have to kill innocent people? What an asshole!
This dummy cheated on his taxes and refused to pay his bill NUMEROUS times, yet is upset at the folks that held him to his responsibilities. I mean shoot – I’ve gotten behind on my bills before, so I understand the frustration, but to blame the creditor for our trespasses is just dumb. Ooooh, this guy just really makes me mad!!

Please pray for all the Austinites affected by this horrible tragedy.
Love, Mer

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Here We Go!

It's Sunday afternoon and the dog is asleep, the baby is asleep, and the hubby's at the gym.  I'm preparing myself for a very big day tomorrow - first day at the new job!  If you know me, you'll know that I've started scores of new jobs in the last 10 years (Manpower Professional in Raleigh and San Diego, the hotel twice, The Art Institute, the horrendous, Blue Oasis twice (I didn't realize that I had worked at the same place twice so many times until now!), Fair Isaac, Affymetrix, Cisco, and working as a contractor for Dell.

However, starting this job is different - this is really my dream job!  I've been working my whole career to find a senior recruiting role with a company that I can be proud of being a part, and on a permanent basis so that I can stay a while, set down some roots, and really grow as a professional.  I have gotten close a couple of times, but this is finally it - I'm really excited!  PLUS, there's the brand new dimension of being a working mom for the first time... Yes, I've been "working" the last 6 months, but from home, doing sourcing, which I can do in my sleep and really didn't require a full 40 hours a week.  I've obtained my dream job and am becoming a REAL working mom for the first time.  I'm nervous - can I really do this?  I know I can kick ass at what I do professionally, but can I really do it with a baby on the brain (and someday, another one in my belly)?  I'm gonna have to dig really deep and DO IT!  Having a great husband and hands-on daddy will really help, but it's going to be an adjustment for him, too.  I know he'll be great, though!

So today I'm having a little pep rally in my head, preparing my paperwork, getting together my identification docs, making a list of things to ask tomorrow so that I can get up and running ASAP, and trying to figure out the PERFECT outfit that will make me feel confident, professional, pretty, and look great in the company directory for the next few years.   No pressure.

Wish me luck!  Love, Mer

p.s.  For my friends who email me regularly, Dell blocks Yahoo Mail, so I'll be able to check my personal email via my iPhone, but responses will probably be short, since it's hard to type novels on the phone...  If you need to reach me about a time-sensitive matter, call me por favor! xo

Friday, February 05, 2010

New Furniture

Still have a long way to go - curtains and corresponding rods, accent walls painted, master bedroom and ceiling painted, lots of artwork, a couple of rugs, and a few accent tables and lamps... but all in all, this house is coming together!!  Every week we feel like it's a new house and it's feeling more and more like ours every day.  We love it!!

And I bought this to brighten up the living room a bit - it doesn't photograph well, so this is a jpeg from the West Elm website.  It's super cute against the chocolate wall!  :)

More to come as I complete today's painting project!  Love, Mer

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Crock Pot

So a few years ago, any talk of crock pots actually kind of sent shivers down my spine - "what a heartless way to produce a meal".  It just seemed like a short cut to the type of meal that wasn't welcome in any dedicated foodie's home and I wanted NO part of it.  Well, friends and countrymen, here is example #198709867a that people really can change!  Not only am I married with a kid, living in the burbs and eyeballing an SUV, but I, good people, am now a huge fan of the crock pot.

I received not one, but TWO crock pots for Christmas, and decided that it was time to give this thing a shot.  Now that I'm going to be a working-outside-the-house mother, it could become a very handy tool for feeding my family!  Over the last month, I've tried several recipes and even made up a delicious brisket for Patrick's birthday party that ended up being a huge hit.  Who knew?   I know that I have some crock pot loving friends who read this blog, so I thought I'd post some new recipes that I've tried and were successful for me.  Let me know if you try these and enjoy them!

Recipe 1: Barbecue Chicken


2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups tomato ketchup
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon ground red hot pepper flakes, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Combine all ingredients for the sauce in the slow cooker. Add the chicken, try to coat it well with the sauce. Cook on high 3-4 hours (or low for 6-8 hours), or until chicken is fully cooked all the way through. Then shred or cut up the chicken, and replace it in the sauce in the pot; mix it all up so all the pieces are coated. Serve on rolls or alone with veggies... delish!

Recipe 2: Cola braised brisket 


3/4 cup cola
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon vinegar
2 gloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon beef boullion granules
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, ground
2 medium onions, chopped
1 1/2 pound beef roast or brisket piece
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons margarine or butter

Directions for meat: Mix all ingredients up to and including red pepper. Reserve 1/2 cup for sauce. Cut meat to fit crock pot. Place onions in crock pot and meat on top of onions. Pour remaining liquid over meat. Cover and cook 10-12 hours on low, 5-6 hours on high.

Directions for sauce: Combine 1/2 cup reserved liquid, ketchup and margarine in saucepan. Heat. Set aside. Shred cooked meat. Serve on buns or tortillas with sauce.

Recipe 3: Turkey Chili


1.25 lbs ground turkey or beef
1 can kidney beans
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can tomato soup
2 cans diced tomatoes
2-4 gloves garlic, minced
4-6 T chili powder
splash of cayenne pepper
optional: 1 cup frozen corn

Brown meat, add it and all other ingredients to a crock pot, and simmer forever on low or maybe about 3-4 hours on high.  Bon appetit!

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Dear Sheridan,

Have I told you lately that I love our life together?  Thanks so much for giving me everything I've ever wanted!!  Our life sure is domestic these days, but let me tell you... I LOVE IT!  Thank you for being trustworthy, loving, funny, giving, forgiving, a great dad, and making me want to be a better person every day.  Thanks for giving me a new life in the form of being a wife and mother.  Thanks for the beautiful future we're planning together...

Just wanted to publicly tell the world how much I love you.  :)

Love, your adoring wifie

Monday, February 01, 2010

New Job

So for some reason, my background check has gotten held up, and I'm not cleared to start the new job yet... So my start date has been changed to next week!  I'm a little bummed that I didn't get to start today (and paranoid that there's something on my record that maybe I don't know about - like unpaid parking tickets turned into warrants or something... I know, I'm paranoid), but I'm sure everything will work out.  And I'm going to try and do some relaxing this week.  We'll see about that...

Like I said in the last post, we're taking P to the ENT today to get those problematic ears checked out... He pulled on his ears all weekend, so I have a feeling the outcome is going to mean tubes.  If that's the case, I'm going to try and talk the doc into doing surgery THIS week, while I'm out of work, so I can take care of the little man.  I'll keep everyone posted if that happens.  Meanwhile, I need to do some deep cleaning, hang some pictures, and maybe do some painting.  Wish me luck!

Hope you all have a great week!

Love, Mer

UPDATE:  P does need tubes, surgery is scheduled soon!!  And the background check cleared...  as if it wasn't going to... DUH.  I freaked myself out for nothing!  :)